Submitting work to some people becomes ever more complex. I’m used to sites which run submission procedures such as submittable instead of taking work via email, but the BBC goes one step further. First, read the guidelines. Inside the guidelines are more guidelines and more windows to open and when you’ve read those there are more layers of the onion to peel, more tabs to open, more terms and conditions and privacy guidelines to read, and when you’ve ticked all those you can start to submit. Oh wait, first you have to create an account. Sigh. OK, now I’ve done that so I fill in my logline (this is a radio play: the logline is like the one-line description which tells you what the play’s all about. I’ll tell you what my logline was in a minute.) Right, that’s done. Now the big moment: uploading the document. I make double sure I’ve selected the right one, and click on it. Nope, everything lights up in bright red. Problem? The document, it seems, is too big. No, hang on, they want a PDF. OK. I go back into the document, export it as a PDF, save it and try again. Nope, the box is outlined in red again like the eyes of a hungover alcoholic. What is it this time? you grunt between gritted teeth. It appears the document is too big. How can that be? They’ve asked for at least 30 pages of dialogue; how can I make it smaller? I ask OH who it seems like me got megabytes and kilobytes mixed up but anyway came and fiddled for a while to try to make it smaller. No dice. So I emailed the writersroom and got a reply saying that since megabytes were larger than kilobytes I should have no problem (one of these days I’ll get these into my head.) OK let’s try again. I just open the PDF to double-check but it’s not there, just the first page with all sorts of edity-type things around it like a decorative frill. Argh! I call OH again who helps me by saving (‘exporting’) it once more as a PDF to the desktop so I make absolutely sure to upload the right one. Fine. I go back to the submission page only to find it’s not there! Where has it gone? Fortunately after fiddling I get it back again and most of my information is still there. Phew. And – click on upload and – yes! Finally, success.
Blimey. That was really hard work. And these days you don’t even stand a chance of getting the play broadcast. What they want is to see an example of your work and if they like it they might choose you as a writer to ‘work with’. I doubt they will choose me but if you don’t try you’ll never know.
And the logline? The play is called ‘The Trans Woman’s Wife’ and the logline:
What is it like to discover after twenty years of marriage that your husband is not seeing another woman but is another woman?
Words cannot express, though I must try to make them, how much I loathe the system under which we live. It’s a system which rewards the rich, no matter how undeserving, and hammers the poor, no matter how they came to be so. It’s a system which assumes that wealth equals merit and that the poor deserve their fate. It’s a system which bypasses, even demonises, compassion and makes an enemy of welfare. It’s a system which punishes benefit claimants and hammers those in debt.
I’m not one of the worst-off. Not even close. I’m not on the streets or hanging on a phone line trying to find out why I owe the DWP money having received a threatening letter, nor am I a refugee about to be put on a plane in the middle of the night (Priti Patel makes my blood boil). I have somewhere to live and clothes to wear; I can’t be deported and nor, thank god, do I claim benefits. But I do have a substantial overdraft and no means of paying it off. Until recently I was coping with the charges: they made a hole in what I laughingly call my income but I could manage. And this month I was sure that in spite of Christmas and Daniel’s birthday (neither of which I grudge in the slightest) I had enough in my account to cover the charges. But this morning I had a text from the bank which I am not ashamed to tell you made me cry, because it informed me that I was about to go over my overdraft limit and should pay in funds today to avoid further charges. Fortunately I can ask OH to help me out here, otherwise I would be on a downward spiral to god knows where.
This has happened because last January the bank decided, out of nowhere, to virtually double the charges for those owing over a certain amount. Why? Just because they could, I guess – they didn’t bother giving any sort of rationale for it. I guess they needed to make up some money they were losing elsewhere, and who better to take it from than people like me; the poor, the overdrawn, those with nowhere else to go? I mean, they could hardly ask the rich, could they? You can’t ask someone like Jeff Bezos for money – he’s far too well-off. As George Bernard Shaw’s Millionaire says, ‘a man as rich as I am cannot afford anything.’ But we shall leave the rich in their self-made prisons for now and consider how many people out there are in my situation; stuck in some kind of debt incurred through no fault of their own – losing their job, an inability to make enough money, disability or illness – and being hammered by government, banks and other bastards. We feel isolated and helpless, we feel constantly hammered and unable to climb out of the mire. We feel abandoned by society and blamed for our own problems. We feel defeated.
We have to do better as a society, to find ways of helping each other. This is not a plea for money but for a better way of doing things. So let’s give our minds to that and together we will find a way.